It was an epic shipwreck-themed long weekend that involved 1,000 miles in a rented car, a day in Philly, a seminar, two public lectures, three tattoos, and whole lot of meetings. I’m still catching my breath in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and gearing up for a day in Martha’s Vineyard this weekend to check out Gay Head, the infamous wreck trap, and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s Shipwreck Exhibit.
On Thursday, I presented a chapter of my dissertation at the Hagley Library’s Research Seminar. [for an electronic copy of the paper go here] It was a bit nerve wracking presenting my work after having attending the seminar as a spectator for years. The comment by Professor Michelle Craig McDonald was insightful and incisive and got the discussion off to a great start. The next two hours flew by and it’ll take me some time to digest the pages of notes I took. Many thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the discussion. The chapter will be much stronger as a result.
On Friday I headed to the city of brotherly love. Besides meeting up with old friends, I was able to take a quick tour through the Independence Seaport Museum. Time was limited, but I was impressed by the diving exhibit (I’m biased) and cruised through the new War of 1812 exhibit. Definitely worth checking out! My real reason for attending, however, was seeing the Olympia. Given everything I’ve been reading about the deterioration of the iconic cruiser and the financial woes of its home institution, I thought it high time to see it before anything drastic happens. It’s an amazing vessel. Support the restoration efforts if you can.
In the afternoon, I headed over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see a public talk by Professor Mark Sullivan titled “Picturing Thoreau in the Twenty-First Century.” Who knew images of Thoreau grace not only the bottom of skateboards but condom wrappers as well?
I also got to meet a couple of readers of Ships on the Shore who are working on a fascinating shipwreck-themed exhibit set to open at the museum this fall. I for one can’t wait to check it out (and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two from the great scholarship they’re doing–the book is apparently almost done.) Maggie Adler gave me the low down on her research into Newport, Rhode Island’s Victorian heroine Ida Lewis. (Good luck finding that ‘mystery’ image.)
Saturday I headed down to the best tattoo parlor in the world–Black Anchor Tattoo–to add to the collection. All I’ll say is that yes, a shipwreck tattoo was involved.
Sunday I drove up to Rockwood Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, and gave a talk titled “Shipwrecks, Shipping, and Joseph Shipley” as part of their Victorian Lecture Series. Despite the weather, there was a great turnout. I think we all had a good time talking shipwrecks, culture and history.
I thought my shipwreck-themed weekend ended there. But after getting back to Woods Hole I learned that one of the nation’s top shipwreck lawyers was in town for a guest lecture. I was fortunately able to sit in on the class. A fascinating discussion about shipwrecks and international law went far into the night. Good times had by all.
It was a busy few days and lots of fun. But I’m looking forward to a good night of sleep!